When it comes to thrash, I’m a very easy sell. So long as the songs are well made, have solid vocals, and most importantly, great guitar riffs, the album will be a winner in my book. This makes me somewhat friendlier to the neo-thrash bands than many of my fellow metal-listeners are. I understand the argument that many of them lack the originality that the genre had in its infancy. Indeed, some bands are a complete mess of tremolo picking and annoying vocals, but there are some great bands out there too: Toxic Holocaust, Municipal Waste, and Warbringer, just to take a few examples. If something was great in the first place, why not make more of it? So how does Warbringer’s third album, Worlds Torn Asunder size up to the Thrash-Metal criterion?
There are some bands who win me over at first listen, and Warbringer is definitely one of them. When I first heard them in 2007, I was blown away by the vicious energy and power of with Total War, the opening track off their debut album. With this latest release, I have to say the boys have made this happen again, several times over. While the album definitely has a very angry sound and deals with violent subject matter, it is incredibly fun to listen to. Several times, I found myself nodding with that look on my face of “Holy shit…this is awesome!”
The opener, Living Weapon, gets things off to an action-packed start, but the real gems come with tracks 2 and 3: Shattered Like Glass and Wake up…Destroy. The two songs are perfect for all manner of headbanging and circle pits with their chugging grooves and insane guitar work. I don’t mean to single these songs out too much though, as the entire album is very consistent. There are some sections where the guitars are simply an open-E palm muted chug, but they are very well placed in the context of all the great riffs found elsewhere. The solos are all very well done, very engaging, and are kept thankfully as long as they should be. The band has a great talent for using tempo changes to their full effect, transitioning from the mid-range chug to full-on thrash at just the right moments to keep the listener locked in.
Another strength that the band brings is vocalist John Kevill. His voice is practically made for Thrash Metal, with just enough rasp and heat without obscuring the words. That’s right! You can understand what he’s saying! Not that I usually quibble about this at all, but it is nice every once and awhile to know what the words are without having to look them up. His voice is very recognizable as his own, though it bears some resemblance to Darren Travis’ from Sadus. But I’m sure John wouldn’t mind the comparison, and one uses the voice he or she is born with, so it would be ridiculous to hold this against him. Stylistically, the sound most closely resembles Beneath the Remains/Arise-era Sepultura, Sadus, with some dashes of Nuclear Assault and Slayer thrown in.
In mentioning their obvious influences, I am forced to admit the one weakness of the album and of Warbringer in general. Yes, their music is an obvious re-hashing of 80’s Thrash Metal, done with modern production and with different words. Savagery, one of my favorite songs on the record, starts out with such an obvious Slayer-riff that I almost felt a little embarrassed for them. Throughout the entire record, one could easily say “someone has done this before”.
But honestly…who cares? It’s an exciting, catchy, and brutal slab of modern Thrash-Metal, and that’s all it needs to be. I don’t really care if it’s not some “dazzling work of progressive artistic sophistication and originality.” I mean seriously…there’s a song about cybernetic organisms trying to take over the Earth. What more do you need? There is a way to take an old sound and make it boring and boilerplate, and there is a way to make it fun and exhilarating. Worlds Torn Asunder belongs in the latter category- by an enormous long-shot.
Favorite songs: Living Weapon, Shattered Like Glass, Wake up…Destroy!, Savagery, Echoes from the Void